Top 20 Volcanoes players of all time: #11 Ryan Vogelsong

Ryan Vogelsong played in the MLB for 12 seasons and won two World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants (AP Photo/ Keith Srakonic).

Ryan Vogelsong is #11 on the Keizertimes list of the 20 greatest Volcanoes players of all time. He was an All-Star in 2011 and won two World Series rings with the San Francisco Giants in 2012 and 2014.

Vogelsong was a three-sport athlete at Octorara High School in Atglen, PA. He stayed in state to attend college at Kutztown University, where he set nine school records over the course of his three-year career.

Vogelsong was drafted by the Giants in the 5th round of the 1998 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft. He made 10 appearances for the Volcanoes that season and was 6-1 with 66 strikeouts and a 1.77 ERA, helping Salem-Keizer win their first ever Northwest League Title (NWL).

After spending two years in the minors, Vogelsong made his debut with the Giants on Sept. 2, 2000. In his four relief appearances with San Francisco, Vogelsong didn’t allow a run to score in six innings of work.

Vogelsong started the 2001 season with the Giants, but struggled out of the bullpen. After posting an 0-3 record with 6.75 ERA, Vogelsong was sent down to Triple-A.

On July 31, 2001, Vogelsong was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he only appeared in two games for the Pirates that year. He underwent Tommy John surgery, which kept him out of baseball for all 2002 and most of 2003.

Vogelsong’s first full season with the Pirates came in 2004. He mostly struggled as a starter, going 6-13 with 6.50 ERA. But after being moved to the bullpen in 2005, Vogelsong experienced a little more success, posting a 4.43 ERA in 44 appearances.

After his ERA ballooned 6.39 in 2006, Vogelsong decided to switch gears and play pro baseball in Japan, signing with the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in 2007. He played for the Tigers for two years and then pitched for the Orix Buffaloes in 2009.

In 2010, Vogelsong returned to the states and signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 2-5 with a 4.69 ERA in 58.2 innings for the Triple-A Leigh Valley IronPigs before being released on July 15, 2010.

Three days after being released, Vogelsong signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels and appeared in eight games in Triple-A for the Salt Lake Bees. He recorded a 1-3 record and a 4.66 ERA in 36.2 innings and was released after the season.

During the offseason Vogelsong decided to play winter ball in Venezuela for Tiburones de La Guaira. He stated the following year that his time in Venezuela was the turning point in recovering his career.

In 2011, Vogelsong returned to the Giants and signed a minor league contract. He started the season in Triple-A, but was called up early in the season to replace injured San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito — it was the first time in five years that Vogelsong had been on a MLB roster.

After making a pair of successful relief appearances, Vogelsong got his first big league start in seven years on April 28, 2011. Ironically, it was against Pittsburgh, his former team.

In 5.2 innings of work, Vogelsong struck out eight and gave up just two runs on four hits, leading the Giants to the 5-2 victory and earning his first MLB win since 2005.

Vogelsong continued to find success in the Giants starting rotation, recording a 6-1 record with a 2.17 ERA in the first half of the season. After being cut by the Angels the previous year, Vogelsong’s performance in 2011 earned him a trip to the All-Star Game.

Vogelsong finished the season with a 13-7 record and a 2.71 ERA, which was the lowest on the team. He was given the Willie Mac Award — which is given annually in honor of Giants legend Willie McCovey to the Giants player who best exemplifies spirit and leadership. Vogelsong was also named the San Francisco breakout player of the year by in 2011.

The Giants rewarded Vogelsong in 2012 with a two-year, $8.3 million contract.

Vogelsong proved that he was worth the money as he posted the lowest ERA in the National League for the first half of the season (2.26). Despite his numbers, Vogelsong was not selected to the 2012 All-Star Game — he was the first ERA leader to not make the All-Star Game since 2001.

Vogelsong also had a streak of 16 consecutive games where he gave up three runs or fewer.

Despite some below-average outings late in the season, Vogelsong still finished the year with a career-high of 14 wins and an ERA of 3.37. After his second straight high-quality regular season in San Francisco, Vogelsong became a hero for the Giants in the 2012 playoffs.

In game three of the National League Division Series (NLDS), with the Cincinnati Reds holding a 2-0 lead over the Giants in the best-of-five set, Vogelsong threw five clutch innings for San Francisco, holding the Reds to just one run on three hits. The Giants went on to win the game 3-2, then won the following two matchups to advance to the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

With the Cardinals up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series, Vogelsong started game two of the NLCS and shut down the potent St. Louis offense. After giving up a run in the top of the second, Vogelsong threw five straight scoreless frames as the Giants went on to win game two 7-1.

However, St. Louis won the next two contests to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. After the Giants won game five, Vogelsong took the hill in game six with the season on the line.

But in the face of elimination, Vogelsong was dominant once again, giving up just one run over seven innings and striking out nine. The Giants won game six 6-1, then won game seven the following night to advance to their second World Series in three years.

The Giants faced off against the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series. After San Francisco won the first two games, Vogelsong got the start in game three and put together a masterful outing, throwing 5.2 scoreless innings in the Giants 2-0 victory. San Francisco completed the sweep of the Tigers in the next game, giving Vogelsong his first World Series ring.

Vogelsong ended his historic postseason with a 3-0 record and a 1.09 ERA, which was the lowest mark since Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser posted a 1.05 ERA in the 1988 playoffs (minimum 24 innings pitched). Vogelsong is also one of only two pitchers in MLB history to begin their playoff careers with four or more starts of five or more innings giving up one run or fewer.

Vogelsong struggled to begin the 2013 season, going 2-4 with a 7.19 ERA in his first nine starts of the season. He then went to the disabled list for nearly three months after being hit in the hand with a pitch while batting against the Washington Nationals on May 20, 2013.

Vogelsong returned to the rotation on Aug. 9, 2013 and finished the year by lowering his ERA down to 5.73.

Before the 2014 season, Vogelsong signed a one-year deal with San Francisco worth $5 million. While he didn’t pitch at an all-star caliber level like he did in 2011 and 2012, it was still a bounce-back year for Vogelsong, who made a career-high in starts (32) and went 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA with 151 strikeouts in 184.2 innings.

Vogelsong made three starts in the 2014 playoffs. While he didn’t get a decision in either of the three outings, the Giants won all three games he pitched en route to their third World Series title of the decade.

Vogelsong’s last season with the Giants in 2015. He made 22 starts, but also had 11 appearances out of the bullpen. He finished the season 9-11 with a 4.67 ERA in 135 innings. On Sept. 3, 2015, he hit the only homer of his career against Jordan Lyles of the Colorado Rockies.

In the offseason, Vogelsong signed a one-year deal with his old team, the Pirates. It ended up being his final season in the big leagues. He threw only 82.1 innings and went 3-7 with a 4.81 ERA.

On Aug. 15, 2016, Vogelsong returned to San Francisco to face the team that drafted him. Vogelsong got the win against the Giants, pitching 5.2 innings and giving up four runs. Before his outing began, the Giants played numerous highlights on the big screen from Vogelsong’s days in San Francisco which was met with a great deal of applause from the fans.

The applause was even louder from the Giants faithful when Pirates manager Clint Hurdle took Vogelsong out of the game in the bottom of the sixth. Vogelsong tipped his hat to the crown as he went back into the dugout.

In 2017, Vogelsong agreed to a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins, but was released in March after struggling in spring training. On Sept. 17, 2017, the Giants held a ceremony at AT&T Park to officially have Vogelsong retire as a Giant. He is one of 48 former Giants players that is featured on the San Francisco Giants Wall of Fame.